Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Healthy Way to Start the Day

When I wakeup every weekend morning I always find myself pondering the same question, what will I eat for breakfast? I’ll be honest and say that I run with a healthy crowd during the week, usually beginning my day in a hum drum bowl of oatmeal with a side of egg whites. I know my body so I know that if I don’t start the day out right I’ll be a hungry zombie in an hour.

This is why I look forward to the weekends. It allows me the rare opportunity to have someone else make me breakfast, or eat something any doctor would raise an eyebrow to. Something that emerged from a pan grease or is stacked high and drenched in maple syrup.

Still there are Saturdays where I lie in bed feeling conflicted, not knowing if I really want to go all out but still knowing I don’t want to be eating celery sticks. Presented with this conundrum I go to such a place where everything on the menu is somehow bad and good for you at the same time, Hugo’s in Studio City.

Arriving in the early morning hours with my girlfriend I could park easily, a feat which would become impossible if I had arrived anytime after 9. Seating choices both inside and outside were plentiful, so I took a seat on their plastic enclosed patio.

Opening the menu and you’ll see why I called this place somehow “bad and good for you” all in the same moment. Hugo’s is all about using organic ingredients and manages to turn the usual greasy spoon fare into a zen like experience. They have various vegan and vegetarian options and a variety of egg, pancake, and even pasta dishes. That’s right, pasta for breakfast. One popular item is their eggs benedict creation “Eggs Blackstone,” which uses black bean cakes in place of an English muffin. They also have “Strawberry Chai Pancakes” that come with organic maple syrup. With all this healthy eating expect a price bump from the usual diner food with everything hovering around $10.

For our breakfasts my girlfriend ordered the “Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Pancakes” off their specials menu. It was described as including “shredded carrots, walnuts, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg,” and coming topped with “sliced bananas, maple candied walnuts, and agave sweetened vegan cream cheese icing.”

I on the other hand couldn’t decide between the “pumpkin pancakes” or “cinnamon swirl french toast.” Since I couldn’t make up my mind I asked our waitress what she would pick, to which she gave me an even better option. I could order half and half and save myself from orderer’s regret. Thanks for the tip!

As far as looks are concerned Jenn's was certainly the most appealing. I could see someone ordering those for dessert. Although I was glad to see that my french toast wasn't just some generic swirl imprint but in fact rolled and sliced bread. The pancake appeared to me like any old pancake.

For the first few bites I actually thought it might be. I couldn't detect any pumpkin and started to think they left the pumpkin out of their pumpkin pancakes. But the more I ate the more pumpkin like it became. It seemed to me that maybe the batter wasn't stirred properly and perhaps led to this fickle cake. My french toast on the other hand was great. The cinnamon shown through brightly and I loved its pull apart consistency. The maple syrup I could tell wasn't some generic high fructose blend. This was the real deal. If you are faced with choosing between pumpkin or cinnamon, go cinnamon.

My girlfriends choice I think looked better then it tasted. When she cut into it I could see the carrots but the pancake tasted weak. I think Hugo's seriously needs to up the signature ingredients of their pancakes if they want to make them more of a winner. Still I should mention that they do have their cooking technique down. Both our pancakes were light and airy. A quality I look for in a well made pancake. I also loved the toppings that came with the carrot.

Usually when I go to Hugo's for breakfast I go for their egg dishes, with this visit being my first foray into pancakes. My experience is that they execute them very well and I've never been disappointed. So I think next time I'll either do the same or order the cinnamon french toast to assure I leave with a smile.
Hugo's Restaurant
12851 Riverside Dr.
Studio City, CA 91607

Get Directions
(818) 761-8985


Erinn said...

Oh, I love Hugo's, but have never been there for breakfast, only lunch. I'll have to put it in my memory banks, for next time I wake up on a Sunday morn, wondering "where shall we go out to eat?"

Mike said...

I've actually never done lunch. So it seems I'm the complete opposite of your Hugo eating habits.